The Royals Reporter Kevin O’Brien is bullish on Steven Cruz:
Even though he posted a K rate of 24.7%, his walk rate was 17.7%, which produced a K-BB% of 6.5%, a pretty mediocre mark. He also only produced an overall CSW% of 25.3%, which ranked 19th last year for Royals pitchers with a minimum of 10 IP last season.
The control and command are still a work in progress for Cruz, and improving that area of his will be an area of focus for pitching coach Brian Sweeney, assistant pitching coach Zach Bove, and bullpen coach Mitch Stetter when pitchers and catchers report to Surprise in February.
On the flip side though, there are a lot of intriguing aspects to Cruz’s pitch mix that could make him not just a productive pitcher for the Royals in 2024, but beyond as well.
Quad Cities River Bandits announcer Kyle Kercheval sat down for an interview with Farm to Fountains:
Sean: Royals development is hidden a bit from the general audience. Last year we saw a surge of pitching development down the line. What did you see in terms of syncing & repeating mechanics that improved the efficiency of this squad compared to previous seasons?
Kercheval: I’m not sure I’m qualified enough to speak on the mechanic stuff specifically, but I can tell you that the biggest difference in this season compared to last was the strike-throwing. You look at guys like Chandler Champlain and Tyson Guerrero, who struggled working in the zone in 2022, but last season were among some of the best strike-throwers in the organization. Guerrero specifically saw a massive jump and went from an 8.5 SO/9 in 2022 to an 11.4 SO/9 in 2023 and really grew mentally throughout the season. His confidence just went through the roof and the numbers backed that.
It’s time for the last full winter-ball Royals roundup as most leagues are getting to the end of the line, beginning with LIDOM:
- Dairon Blanco started four games in left field this week and went 4-15 with a couple walks. He is hitting .361/.410/.611 in postseason play.
Moving over to the Venezuelan Winter League (LVBP):
- Maikel García has cooled off in the postseason, going 3-16 with two doubles and three walks in five games this week. He is hitting .143/.250/.238 in postseason play.
- Freddy Fermin played in four games this week and went 5-13 with two doubles, a homer, and a walk. He is hitting .313/.389/.625 in postseason play.
Going across the Caribbean to the Puerto Rican Winter League (LBPRC):
- Nelson Velázquez went 1-13 with a couple walks this week. He is hitting .056/.150/.056 in postseason play.
Finally, to the Australian Baseball League (ABL):
- Jack Pineda drew three starts at shortstop and went 2-10 with a walk. In 106 plate appearances, he has hit .223/.305/.309.
- Milo Rushford played twice in left field and once in center, going 2-10 with a double, a homer, and two walks. In 117 plate appearances, he has hit .190/.342/.316.
- Hyungchan Um made three starts behind the plate and went 2-10 with a walk. He is hitting .232/.253/.316 in 99 plate appearances.
Kansas City is poaching talent from Tread:
I'm thrilled to announce that I'm joining the @Royals as a Minor League Pitching Coach.— Sam Eades (@SamEades13) January 10, 2024
I'll be wrapping up my time @TreadHQ on the 18th, after Pro Weekend this weekend.
I can't thank everybody at Tread enough for ~18 of the most transformative months of my life.
Go Royals! pic.twitter.com/543reI2Sgg
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